Best learning gifts for your little ones

Gifts for kids are often colorful and noisy, but not all toys are created equal. Some are simply for entertainment while others encourage discovery through play. Whether you're preparing for upcoming winter holidays or your child has a birthday soon, here are some fun learning presents:

Even the youngest of kids can gain skills through doing a puzzle. Toddlers love interactive puzzles with pegs to hold onto, making it easier for tiny hands to maneuver each piece. Look for thick magnetic puzzles that make noises when the proper piece is put in place. When your little one matches the cow with its spot on the board, a "moo!" will erupt, teaching him or her about cow sounds. Older kids can try puzzles with smaller pieces to learn patience and spatial reasoning as well as improve their memory skills. 3D puzzles are another great option for kids who enjoy putting things together.

Science kits
Elementary age kids are often very inquisitive and may love taking part in science classes. Why not bring the experiments home and encourage knowledge in this Common Core subject? Science kits are perfect for these curious cats to unearth dinosaurs through archeology digs, create robots and even use microscopes. These gifts can really encourage kids to explore the world around them, giving them the courage and self-confidence to excel in the classroom as well. Rock tumblers, mini kid-friendly lathes for woodworking and even weather monitoring sets promote creativity and learning through geology, art and meteorology.

If you have a little reader on your hands, books can be a great present! Fiction novels and chapter books like "The Magic Treehouse" series transport the reader to other worlds and times, teaching them about everything from dinosaurs to civil rights. Historical biographies are a great choice for kids who enjoy learning about real people. Look for a mix of books that are easy to read and some that are more challenging. This way your gift will be appropriate as the child grows and improves his or her understanding of language. Series are also popular as kids can really get into one book and then excitedly await the release of the next.

Outdoor equipment
Being outdoors promotes stress relief as well as imaginative play. Kids can learn a lot from working toward riding a bike without training wheels, trying to walk on stilts or even practicing the balance beam. Toys like a baseball glove and bat, a hula hoop or roller blades can teach your kids to get outside. Learning a new skill can improve a child's confidence and show them how much fun it is to try something they've never done before. Just be sure you also have the necessary safety equipment on hand such as a bike helmet, knee pads and bandages in case of a fall. Being in sunlight also encourages little bodies to create vitamin D, promoting healthy immune systems and happiness. Whole families can play together with toys like jump ropes, a trampoline or bikes to enjoy one another's company and the outdoors.

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